Survivor Profiles: Samuel R. Harris
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center will serve as a beacon to the world… A beacon of hope where we, our children and grand children will learn from the past and make sure that this or any kind of Holocaust does not happen in the future.
Samuel R. Harris
Samuel R. Harris (born Szlamek Rzeznik) is one of the youngest Survivors of the concentration camps during the Holocaust. Born in 1935 in Deblin, Poland, he was just four years old when the Nazis occupied Poland. Sam, his seven siblings, and parents were forced to move into the ghetto. They lived there for almost three years before the ghetto was liquidated in 1942. Sam’s entire family, with the exception of his sisters (Sara and Rosa), were deported to Treblinka and murdered. Rosa, Sam’s older sister, worked as slave laborer in the concentration camp outside of Deblin, and was able to hide both Sam and his sister Sara in the camp. In 1944, Sam, Rosa, and Sara were all deported to Czestochowa, where Rosa was again able to hide her two siblings. The three of them were liberated by the Soviet army in 1945. In 1946, Rosa smuggled both Sam and Sara to Austria and arranged for them to move to New York City. The two siblings moved to the United States in 1947, and were adopted by two different families. Sam was adopted by the Harris Family, and he moved to Chicago. After, Sam experienced college, a career, marriage and fatherhood. Eventually, in 1981, he reconnected with his past at the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Jerusalem. Sam was an instrumental force behind the building of the 65,000 square-foot Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, of which he is President Emeritus. In 2014, Sam was the proud recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. His hologram tells his story through Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience.